Mourning Glory Café features Marina L. Reed for its first meeting

February 25, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield 

Lori Smith a member of the Mourning Glory Café Society, one of a collection of volunteers that welcomes anyone to join them once a month. There have been no meetings for several months due to Covid-19 but the first one is coming up at St. Mark’s Church on First Avenue, Monday, February 28 at 7:00 pm.

“It is based on the Death Café formed in the U.K. in 2011,” she told the Citizen by telephone. “It’s now around the world and brings together people in a respectful, neutral environment to talk about death with tea and coffee and cake; it’s an open unstructured get together and talk about dealing with death.

“People come away and say it was very uplifting and enlightening and they feel supported. We just let the conversation go where it will.”

The premise is that as a society we don’t talk about death but when people get in the group, that’s very different. Some people are very repressed and others are very open.

Ms. Smith said, “It’s always a very interesting conversation that we have. We may cry but we always laugh too.”

The nine volunteers who assist in the conversations at the Mourning Glory Cafe are not trained: “We’re just a volunteer group but we’re not grief counsellors,” Ms. Smith said, “We have resources to offer people who want help. It’s just like sitting around in the living room having a conversation with friends – it flows.”

One thing that is going to be different at the upcoming meeting on Monday, February 28 is that local author, Marina L. Reed has been invited to come it to speak, the first time someone specifically has come into the group as a speaker. The idea to ask Ms. Reed was the decision of Lori Robertshaw, founder of the Mourning Glory Cafe.

“Normally,” said Lori Smith, “we meet the third Monday evening of every month. This time, it’s the last Monday because the third Monday was Family Day. There’ll always be time for people to talk together but this is a local author so that in itself will be interesting. People do have to provide proof of vaccination.”

Although the group started a few years ago, Covid shut them down. Zoom was not an option for the Cafe. The last in-person meeting was in November 2020. For Lori Smith the benefit of this Cafe as a volunteer is the opportunity to talk about the many “terrible losses” she has endured. 

She said, “I think it’s a need to remember that person and keep the memory alive and not be afraid to talk about them. I was brought on by Lori very early in the process and I jumped at the opportunity. It’s very uplifting to see and hear people open up about stuff that they may not have before.”
Basically, they start by talking about why they came and conversation flows from there. It can run the gambit and no one ever knows where the conversation is going to end but for Ms. Smith the experience is extraordinary and enlightening.

“People are welcome to just show up.”

The guest speaker, author Marina L. Reed has written 11 books, including Primrose Street which was nominated for a General Governor’s Award. Over two years, she and her collaborator, Marian Grace Boyd, put together six books about grieving and dealing with loss. They are a series of books called Remember, It’s Ok: Loss of a … and each book concerns itself specifically with the death of a parent, partner, sibling or friend, a child, a pet and the last one for teenagers: Remember, It’s Ok: Loss for Teens, in which the subjects do address suicide. The inclusion of suicide was at the advice and request of the teenagers they spoke to before the book’s development. 
The collaboration of these two ladies came about after Ms. Reed’s husband died. She was struggling when she was introduced to Psychotherapist, Marian Grace Boyd, with whom a firm friendship developed. In due course, they were encouraged and decided to write this Remember, It’s Ok… series as a way of opening the conversation and bringing healing.

Ms. Reed commented about the famous seven “stages’ that counselling professionals use, “were designed for people dying, not the people grieving [after death]. This is a huge part of our life that was stuck in a corner. Grief never ends. Even though you can get perspective but not healing. You learn how to live with your grief.”

Ms’s Reed and Boyd chose “six colours. You circle through these colours continuously,” she said. “A red moment – the most intense colour – can happen anytime but most of the time you’re in blue or green.”

Most of the books are written in the first person, as she informed us. Then the conversation is with the support worker or for people helping and that is about what one should and should not say. Creating these six books dispels the myth that grieving is the same with every loss but as the relationship is different, so the conversation and the feeling is different.

Ms. Reed interviewed many people and talked to professions, telling us, “Marian and I took all this and pulled them together.

“It changed my view of how to handle grief. Marian has given a real gift; together we created something pretty fantastic but it was a very emotional experience.

“People were saying, ‘No one ever asked us about that.’ People will always wear a mask when they come and I don’t come with an agenda. I feel really blessed that we’ve birthed [this approach] and now we’re just trying to teach it to walk and get out there.” 

The Mourning Glory Cafe website is and there is a Facebook page for more information.

As Lori Robertshaw says by way of invitation, “The topic is death but the conversation is bursting with life and there’s no charge.”

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